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tv   [untitled]  CSPAN  June 18, 2009 8:30am-9:00am EDT

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all must adhere. i don't think there's any question that mainline carriers exceed that base far more often than most. but that which exists in law or rule is relevant to the extent you have a federal agency that says they're going to force you -- we are going to enforce it and and force it aggressively. the believe that is the case? >> we could have greater enforcement and if the committee and the faa shoes, you could even change the parameters. we have suggested programs required as part of the base. you can use programs on training. there are a number of issues on pilot records that you can resolve. all of those things can be done to improve the environment.
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>> as i indicated when i started this hearing, i want to invite the folks that run the carriers themselves to come to the table. we made some invitations and apparently have not had acceptance of those invitations but we make them fully understanding will be accepted and have another hearing. >> you have our commitment, whenever you walk, we will provide. >> thank you very much. senator demint. >> we need to get a little more specific. mr. may, i appreciate you mentioning specifics about what we can do with training, but what i am not hearing today are specific ideas about what do we need to change to prevent something like this from happening again. there have got to be things that come to mind that we need to change.
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we obviously have some situations of violating current rules. in a sterile cockpit in this particular crash, did the pilots themselves violate rules? we need to make sure that that doesn't happen again. but what do we need to do? wood to the carriers need to do? what do we need to do from a regulatory perspective, do we need legislation that the regulators cannot carry out? what we are looking for here is what we can do? mr. may, starting with you because you mentioned training. we need specifics of things that can be done to improve safety, perhaps that this crash brings to light, that we are not doing or not requiring or not auditing, we have gone a lot of assurances that safety is the main concern, but the reason we are here is that that broke
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down. i am looking for some ideas. we need to know if we need to push the regulators to do something different, we need to pass legislation, do we need to insist on the carrier's to do something they're not doing? >> i think i made 7 very specific recommendations in my testimony. i will recap them for you today. there needs to the requirements that regional carriers implement programs which are fully in use at mainline levels and would make a marked difference if applied at the regional levels. and we need to put in a new training standard. there's a long and open -- it would be wise for the f a to
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implement an aviation fuelmaking committee and take a hard look at programs's advanced qualification programs that have been developed by mainline carriers, could be transported to regional carriers to improve safety in terms of training. and you need to direct the faa to take a hard look at how they better enforce the sterile cockpit rule. we recognize that there are privacy issues involved, but there needs to be some kind of monitoring of cockpit tapes on a frequent basis. and i suspect captain prater will acknowledge that as long as we protect the privacy of the pilots, there is a way that can be done.
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next, you need to have a very specific program promulgated by the faa on records so that when a carrier goes out to higher an individual pilot, they have access to all of that pilot's record in the same place and in the same format so that they can have a complete look at what has gone on, and finally, excuse me, i think we need to make sure we have a very close look at the whole process used by the faa to regulate 121 and these issues that need to be incorporated and whether or not the standard is fine, just needs to be an enforcement issue. those are some specific recommendations. >> very helpful, we need to get that in some joint letter to
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make sure we are reviewing those recommendations. the other witnesses, do you agree they need to be added? >> senator demint and members of the committee, we full hardly support the points that mr. may pointed out. one industry in concurrence on these issues -- let me point out two specific things in addition. this integrated database of pilot records is something that congress can direct the faa to do and do immediately so that the access to this information is readily available to people as we hire. the better information about people in the system, the safer it will be. the other issue underscoring the use of cvrs, as you talk about
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in your remarks, it is a tragedy that we are here, and all of the issues that congress, the faa, are learning about, are from -- it had to be after the tragedy. that is a shame. if there is the tool that can be used to help prevent accidents, that is getting information about how to prevent accidents before they happen, and we are not even touching it, that is a real tragedy. >> i would like to respond, we are talking band-aids, we need to look at the system. the thought that we can somehow monitor cockpit voice recorders and somehow improve the safety or the compliance of pilots, let
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us focus on the professionalism and the training of those airmen who do this day in and day out. we are missing something, we are missing that these airmen have been doing their job. let's not take this accident and try to say it was caused because pilots were talking in the cockpit. you have to communicate, you have to relate. i am not going to talk about this one because it is still under investigation and we are analyzing. do you want to improve it? yes. but where do you learn to become a professional? learn it from the men and women that you respect, you break the chain and keep moving around, where do you get that experience? all of a sudden a new first officer is flying with somebody who has only been flying for 3 years -- three years. that would not have a the airlines hadn't kept pushing fly around the system. it took me 12 years to make captain, that is to be the norm. we went through 12 years or 28 years or five years of operations, now is much quicker.
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>> you object to random reviews of cockpit recordings to verify sterile cockpit? >> if you want to use it to monitor, you will actually create a cockpit that may not be as safe. let's not mistake that sterile cockpit means we are focused upon flying the airplane at critical points. that is standard. that is what goes on. we are assuming too much. it is protected at used as safety data, we should be able to find a way to make the system safer and that is our shared goal. >> just about every service company i call on the telephone, bank or whatever, is going to say this call may be monitored
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for quality purposes, you can't prove what you don't measure. to assume that this will monitor potential problems over the lifetime of a pilot is like assuming the same thing for and airplane. i am a little concerned that you consider that a band-aid. to you consider getting the records, keeping records of pilots over their career, is that a band-aid? >> are we going to compare apples with apples? which training school did they come out of? you don't want to create a system where go to x, y, z training school because they don't flinch anybody, you don't want anything on your record, or the one them to go to the hardest school where they push you to your limits, push you to a failure not of a check ride, but all these are maneuvers we must be trained in over and over
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whether they are emergencies or back to basic flying skills. you don't want to create a system that actually finds a way of getting around that. don't create a loophole. >> can be allowed mr. maurer to comment on the suggestions? >> i would like to remind everybody, when you are sitting in the passenger section of the plane, you are not aware of who is on the other side of those floors. is full disclosure too much of the thing to ask when your life is at hand? another comment, chairman dorgan had that chart up there. my commute to work is set in miles. members of the senate, i know that you come from pretty far away, but you have a residence
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here, you have some place here. perhaps the airline industry needs to consider providing for that kind of thing if we are going to allow pilots to commute these great distances. i happen to travel probably every other week, and it is not uncommon for me sitting side by side with pilots who are commuting to airbase location. they are tired. i get in conversations with them all the time, they are tired, those hours don't count towards the critical restrictions. these are things that we have got to take into account. we learned in our accident, long hours that retaken just getting to work, then you're going to climb on a plane and fly. let's keep the human element in mind.
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let's not be defensive. >> senator lautenberg? >> thanks. i think there was a response to question by senator dorgan about the relatively modest wage, wages that are paid to people, such as the fellow who flew co-pilot on that flight, 3407. because you said the pay scale that might be applied in other professions. but i think the point was missed. if someone is not making enough money to take care of themselves and their families, that will typically mean a second shot, second opportunity to earn some
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more money is in the cards. as a consequence, there's more effort, more opportunity for fatigue to creep in to the individual's operation. so i think when we talk about the profession, $20,000 a year, that is almost minimum-wage for any kind of a job, whether it is a janitor or otherwise. we have to look at these in real time. at the previous hearing we held on aviation safety, one of the questions i raised was how many times does the inability to pass a test be allowed before his three strikes or whatever the number is, and you are out?
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would anyone here want to go into major surgery and have a physician who flunked his tests five times before they squeezed him through the operation and put life in his hands. i think there is a point in time when you have to say if you can't masters this in two or three times, find something else to do. people love to fly, i know a lot of pilots, i sat second seed and small airplanes, flying is a glamorous job, it really is, i don't know how it is in commercial operations when you are sitting in seats to fly back home, or otherwise away from home, but there's a point in
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time, captain prater, when you say this is not -- the simulators replicate emergency situations. >> very much so. you can do a really good job training for emergencies. it doesn't replicate the fact that when you are in an airplane, it is more three-dimensional, you'd go back to the basic airmanship. at most of the airlines, three strikes and you are out is just about the way it works. that is oversimplified but we give and herrmann 2 --airman two chances, we may send him for a psychological exam. is there something else going on, why that individual, basically by the third time of the failure, trying to master the same maneuver or the same
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airplane, a pilot's jobs are at risk at that point. >> so this was an oddity, that the captain of this flight failed f five times over a perid of years? >> we have to make sure we are comparing apples with apples. if he had problems in his private pilot's license or commercial pilot license with basic airmanship skills and had to be retrained, we can't get away from the fact that he met all of the faa standards and he met the standards of the employer as required by the faa. >> is the testing or training of a regional pilot the same as it
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is for pilots in major airlines? >> yes, it is. >> do the regular airlines companies, aviation companies pay as little as $20,000 a year, even alongside a trained captain in the cockpit? >> as a practical matter, the pilots that are hired by the mainline was significantly more seniority on average and are paid at a higher level. pay is a function of collective bargaining and is generally also conditioned on the number of hours in a particular type of aircraft, whether or not they are first officer. there are a number of factors involved in pay, but it is
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effectively the exclusive jurisdiction of collective bargaining and seniority. >> someone achieve the status of captain, is there a requirement in the regionals that they fly a particular number of hours? >> basic f a rs require 15 hours of flight time for age 23-year-old. that is the basic, not a lot of time in many cases. pilots do exceed that before they check out as captain but in rapidly expanding environments comic it is a concern. it is also the concern of how much actual experience. time is not the only generator. if you flew a b-52 for 20 our missions, it is not the same amount of training as taking 6 take offs and landings the day in an aircraft environment. time doesn't cure all.
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>> our average captain at here regional airline has 8500 hours. that is pretty experienced. the average first officer is three thousand hours. >> not dealing with averages but specifics might be called for. the captain of an airplane that has a less skilled co-pilot have to have had more experience than the basic experience. that might be a good rule to put in. you're going to take someone who is new at this job and consider all of the factors. when you look at what is required of the passenger flow in major airlines or regionals, to make sure they can bring down
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an airplane. we look at the skills, training and reaction ability, it is much more casually done. we can learn from that. not to change the security process, but to say that the person in the front of the airplane has to be able to manage all situations because mr. maurer, i know it is painful for you to review this that you are doing a wonderful job when you say let my loss be a lesson for others. we have to take that to heart. >> thank you, senator johanns. >> thank you, mr. cohen, how many regional airlines are in
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operation? how many would that be? >> as has been talked about, the term regional airline is almost a term of art rather than science. there are 31 member airlines and those members carry 90% of the passengers in scheduled service. >> how many of those would be profitable today? how many are making money? >> some of them are privately held. i don't have that information. >> of those that are not privately-owned, could you get that information? >> we would be glad to get it to you and provide it to the committee.
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>> let me understand your business model because it bears some submissions. as i understand it, the cost of the ticket that i would purchase is not determined by that regional, it is determined by the contract for the majority, the vast majority of business operations? how are your revenues determined? is it based on that ticket cost? >> there is a variety of business arrangements which are proprietary in nature but it is my general understanding that it can be one of a couple ways, probably the predominant way is fee for departure. basically the regional airline is given a schedule and is paid in some fashion based on the number of flight hours, the
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number of trips, performance of those trips. there are regional airlines that are owned subsidiaries of major airlines. that may be a different relationship. there are some independent regional airlines, a smaller group, some business models that actually have a little bit of -- where the ticket price may be split, but that is a very small percentage. >> is it impacted by the number of people on the plane? if you are flying 50 vs 5 your revenues are going to be better? >> only in those where the regional carrier would be sharing in the rest of the
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revenue for the flight. >> how many regionals have gone bankrupt? >> i have in president of the regional airline association for 2-1/2 years. i believe two may have gone out of business in those two years. i can give you the exact information. >> on the pilots themselves, i started out as a young lawyer and had you asked me at age 23 are you ready to handle the most complex cases in a courtroom setting a would have said absolutely. i got my lawi would have said absolutely. i got my law degree, let's go. i wasn't anywhere near ready. is the regional airline regarded as the training ground for
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pilots? you pick up some hours, do some flying back and forth to what ever, you pick up those our that eventually you hopefully get to a big carrier and maybe eventually go transcontinental? i don't know what the next step would be. is that the case? >> unfortunately, that is what this system has produced, and it is not the safest model. >> mr. cohen, averages mean nothing to me. when i walk on the airplane and stick my head in the cockpit and say i feel so good that the average salary here is whatever you told me it was, i would never say that. i want to know that they are trained and ready and handles thunderstorms and ice and keep me out of trouble. your averages just don't land anywhere with me. they miss the mark completely.
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what would be the minimum salary per year that a pilot would be hired to come on board? >> mr. chairman, i don't have -- mr. chairman, senator johanns, i don't have the minimum average. we provided some information to the committee, i can get you that of our member airlines, i can provide that. >> i want you to get that. your averages mean nothing. >> is a new pilot making $16,000 a year for a full time job unless he or she is on reserve and doing that kind of commuting? >> yes, sir. >> i travelled extensively when i was in the cabinet. i must admit i got tired of it. one of the things that really
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hammered me was the constant time changes, the poor diet, the lack of exercise, because you can never have a schedule. when these folks are travelling from the west coast to the east coast and they have gone through all those time changes, how does that compute? if you see somebody who has spent the whole night, can they literally land in new jersey and get on an airplane and start flying? >> it is possible. it is also true they may have flown that flight across the country, our flight, then sit around for a couple hours, as many as 5 or 6 hours, then fly the trip. where is it more -- is it any more restful sitting in coach trying to get to work for two hours or driving to an airport for two hours? we have to look at that.
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the subject of commuting has some focus especially on our first duty day. are you sufficiently rested to do your next 16 hours of duty? that is what we have to look at, those extensive periods. in this case what is also forgotten is the co-pilot could have flown that trip instead of just written on it and been legal to fly that afternoon and fly that trip. that is a fact. >> i am going to zero in on this in a very focused way. let's say i grew up in florida and i get my training in florida and i am used to thunderstorms but i have no idea what ice is about, never flown in it, maybe got a little bit of training on it but no experience whatsoever. could a regional hire me to


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